MADRID (AFP) — Juan Carlos, the former king of Spain who went into exile this month in the face of graft allegations, is in the United Arab Emirates, the royal palace said Monday, ending the mystery on his whereabouts.
The 82-year-old “traveled to the United Arab Emirates on August 3 and he remains there,” a spokesman said without giving further details.
In a surprise move, Juan Carlos announced on August 3 that he was leaving Spain to prevent his personal affairs from undermining his son King Felipe VI’s reign, but did not say where he would be going.
The royal palace had up until now refused to reveal where Juan Carlos is living, saying he would announce it himself if necessary.
While pro-monarchy Spanish daily ABC had reported that the former king had traveled to Abu Dhabi, other media singled out Portugal, where Juan Carlos spent part of his youth, or the Dominican Republic as possible destinations.
While Juan Carlos is not under formal investigation, revelations by a former mistress, German businesswoman Corinna Larsen, raise legal questions about his financial affairs which officials are looking into in Spain and Switzerland.
The suspicions center on $100 million that the late Saudi king Abdullah allegedly deposited into a Swiss bank account in 2008 to which Juan Carlos had access.
Prosecutors at Spain’s Supreme Court are looking into claims made by Larsen that Juan Carlos received kickbacks for a Saudi high-speed rail contract, which was awarded in 2011 to a consortium of Spanish companies.
The 280-mile link between Mecca and Medina was inaugurated in 2018.
Juan Carlos, who has long had warm relations with the Gulf monarchies, ascended the throne in 1975 on the death of the fascist dictator Francisco Franco and ruled for 38 years before abdicating in favour of his son Felipe VI in June 2014.
He was a popular figure for decades, playing a key role in the democratic transition from the Franco dictatorship which ruled Spain from 1939-1975.
A majority of Spaniards, 56.2%, feel his decision to move abroad is “misguided”, according to a poll of 802 people published Sunday in the daily ABC, with only 25.4% saying it was the right step.
An even greater number of Spaniards, 60.9 percent, believe his self-imposed exile is harmful for his son, the current King Felipe VI, according to the poll of 802 people carried out August 10-14.
Since ascending to the throne in 2014, King Felipe VI has since taken steps to improve the monarchy’s image, such as imposing a “code of conduct” on royals.
Earlier this year he stripped his father of his annual allowance of nearly 200,000 euros after new details of allegedly shady financial dealings emerged.
© Agence France-Presse